Monday, July 11, 2005

TP.3 Disappointed

R. Kelly's new album TP.3 Reloaded is the second "sequel" to his classic solo debut, 12 Play (the first one being 2000's 12 Play was known for sexually charged songs like "Your Body's Callin'" and "Bump 'N' Grind." TP.3 Reloaded is R. Kelly's return to sexually oriented music after the tame double concept album Happy People/U Saved Me. Unfortunately, TP.3 Reloaded doesn't deserve to be even remotely associated with 12 Play. Even a certain five-part song cannot save this lackluster effort.

For all of R. Kelly's great slow jams, uplifting songs, and ballads, there are those incredibly silly songs that only he can pull off. These include songs like "You Remind Me Of Something," where he compares his girl to his car, his stereo, and his bank account, "Feelin' On Your Booty," which is pretty self-explanatory, and "Thoia Thoing," a song that doesn't really make any sense. A lot of the songs on TP.3 Reloaded are in the vein of the songs I mentioned, but they seem more like songs a comedian would come up with to make fun of R. Kelly, rather than songs from the man himself. "Put My T-Shirt On" has the R. singing about how beautiful his girl looks wearing his oversized T-shirt. He says being with his girl is like smoking marijuana on "Sex Weed" and makes tons of references to food on "In The Kitchen," one of the better songs on the album. Kelly also does his best Prince impression on the unintentionally hilarious "Remote Control" as he sings "Girl you've got me programmed/Under your control" in a high falsetto.

R. Kelly tries to make the R. stand for reggae not one, not two, but three times on this album. He attempts island-style singing (and doesn't do that badly considering) on "Slow Wind." On "Reggae Bump Bump," Kelly and guest star Elephant Man spend five minutes talking about how much they love the female booty. "Burn It Up," featuring Wisin and Yandell, is Kelly's attempt to capitalize on the growing popularity of reggaeton, complete with the genre's signature beat in the background.

Several artists make guest appearances on this album. The Game drops in on "Playa's Only," a song co-produced by Scott Storch. Baby appears on "Girls Gone Crazy," which made me wonder about the rumored album R. Kelly and Baby were supposed to be making together. Twista and Do Or Die are the best parts of the Chi-town collaboration "Hit It Til The Mornin'" while "Happy Summertime" featuring Snoop Dogg is probably the best non-serial song on the album. After working together on the song "Laundromat," Nivea and R. Kelly collaborate again on "Touchin'," the song that sounds closest to anything that appeared on 12 Play.

"Trapped In The Closet," the five-part musical soap opera that ends the album, is quite simply one of the most creative things R. Kelly has ever done. Kelly sings all the parts in this drama from the point of view of a man who, at the beginning of "Chapter 1," wakes up in the bed of a woman he had sex with the previous night. When the woman's husband arrives, Kelly is forced to go into a bedroom closet and hide, hence the title of the song. Things get crazier after that with surprises at every turn. Each of the parts ends on a cliffhanger and make you want to listen to the next chapter. Both lyrically and vocally, R. Kelly is in rare form here. Lyrically, he has written a compelling soap opera that is easy to follow and easy to understand. The five-part song shows how infidelity can ruin lives and how what goes around comes around. Kelly displays his vocal range well across the five parts. He powerfully delivers every line and changes his delivery for each character. He even manages to imitate a police siren on "Chapter 4." Across five songs and for over 15 minutes, R. Kelly manages to create great music without a chorus or a hook in sight. According to the CD box, "Chapters 6-10" of "Trapped In The Closet" are on the way.

TP.3 Reloaded comes with a limited edition DVD that features the complete "Trapped In The Closet" longform video. The video, which was co-directed by R. Kelly, brings the urban soap opera to life. Kelly plays Sylvester, the man telling the story while actors play the other characters and match their lips to Kelly's vocals. Like most soap operas, the acting in this longform video is over-the-top and pretty bad at times. However, the video still succeeds at being fun to watch, mainly because of the subtle things the video shows that the song does not mention. For some reason, the "Trapped In The Closet" video (and songs) are self-censored at times. Even though TP.3 Reloaded has a Parental Advisory warning, selected curse words are bleeped out during the later parts of the "Trapped In The Closet" saga. The "F-word" is bleeped out several times with the notable exception of the final utterance during "Chapter 5."

Despite containing one of the most creative works of R. Kelly's career, TP.3 Reloaded is an utter disappointment. It really seems like the rest of the album was created just as filler so that "Trapped In The Closet" wouldn't be an EP of its own. There are none of the wonderful ballads that R. Kelly is known for. The sexually charged songs resort to silliness instead of having anything resembling insight into relationships. I don't mind that there is not one song on this album that doesn't have to do with sex in some way. I just wish that the songs were better. In fact, despite the awful lyrics across the board, there is nary a thing to say wrong about his vocals on this album. However, it's just a shame to hear his wonderful voice sing such uninspired crap. I hope that, with his pending legal troubles, he can channel the creativity that brought about "Trapped In The Closet" into more of the great, trendsetting R & B music we expect of him.

No comments:

Post a Comment